Summary: On February 11, 1858, Bernadette begged to be allowed to accompany her sister and friend to gather sticks to be used for firewood. She fell behind the other girls, and then “it” happened.

Feb. 11 Lourdes

On February 11, 1858, Bernadette begged to be allowed to accompany her sister and friend to gather sticks to be used for firewood. She fell behind the other girls, and then “it” happened.

“I raised my head and looked towards the grotto. I saw a Lady dressed in white, wearing a white dress, a blue sash and a yellow rose on each foot, the same color as the chain of her Rosary: the beads of her Rosary were white.”

The color was a yellowish gold.

The bishop of Lourdes said that the message of Lourdes is not essentially in words, but rather in actions, words, and gestures.

1). Mary’s first gesture was, in fact, the Sign of the Cross. Bernadette imitated her, making the Sign of the Cross also, although with a trembling hand.

Pope Benedict XVI said “the whole message of Lourdes is contained in this gesture of the Virgin! God has so loved us that he gave himself up for us: This is the message of the Cross, ‘mystery of death and of glory.’”

Catholics and Protestants both pray directly to God and also ask their fellow Christians to pray for them. The difference is that Catholics don’t restrict the term “Christians” to mean “only Christians on earth.”

We can ask the saints in heaven, and especially Mary, to pray for us, which happens in the Rosary prayer. At Fatima, Lucia had learned from Mary that, “There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that cannot be resolved by the prayer of the Rosary.”

Bernadette always carried her rosary with her. She said, “Without thinking of what I was doing I took my Rosary in my hands and went on my knees.

The Lady made with Her head a sign of approval and Herself took into Her hands a Rosary which hung on Her right arm. When I attempted to begin the Rosary and tried to lift my hand to my forehead, my arm remained paralyzed, and it was only after the Lady had signed Herself that I could do the same. The Lady left me to pray all alone; She passed the beads of Her Rosary between Her fingers but She said nothing; only at the end of each decade did She say the “Glory Be” with me.

“When the recitation of the Rosary was finished, the Lady returned to the interior of the rock and the golden coloured cloud disappeared with Her. As soon as the Lady had disappeared Jeanne Abadie (a friend) and my sister returned to the Grotto and found me on my knees….

One time, when Bernadette was with Mary, her expression changed and tears fell from her eyes. When asked later what happened, she replied:

“The Lady, waking away from me for a moment, directed her glance afar, above my head. Then looking down upon me again, she said, ‘Pray for sinners.’”

Another gesture.

2). Mary smiled. The first few times that St. Bernadette saw the Blessed Virgin, Mary actually didn’t say anything. Instead, she simply smiled, which is meant for us too.

Pope Benedict XVI said that her smile looking down on us is reflected in our dignity as children of God, this smile is a true reflection of God’s tenderness, the source of an invincible hope.” [Homily at Lourdes, 15 September 2008].

Faith in the love of God when we are faced with sickness or death is what the Word of God teaches us, says Pope Benedict.

The serene and sincere nearness of others, and their prayers are expressions of Mary’s smile. The smile of Mary is an expression of the genuine existential certainty of God which enables coping with whatever God wants the outcome to be, be that joining Him in heaven.

On another occasion, Our Lady asked Bernadette to dig in the ground. It was just moist mud. It was never known then that a spring was even hidden there, so a spring bubbled up and has been flowing there ever since.

Millions continue to bathe in that water. Each person comes seeking healing for sick bodies, broken hearts, and maladies of the soul. And each person finds healing, according to the Lord’s holy will, and through the intercession of Our Lady.

From our Gospel today, medical science was completely unable to treat leprosy when Jesus healed the man. Many people have been cured at Lourdes when modern medicine could do nothing for them although the medical board there is very stringent in accepting what is deemed truly a miracle.

At Lourdes today, at times, it seems as if half the population is pushing the other half in wheel chairs. Mary told Bernadette to go drink in the spring and wash yourself there. There is always a healing of some sort for every person who bathes in the water at Lourdes

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